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Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2431
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:24 pm    Post subject: Starting a Program/Dojo Reply with quote

Well, I'm finally doing it--I'm going to start my own karate program/dojo! I am moving to a smaller city, South of Phoenix, early next year, and have made arrangements with a CrossFit gym to sub-lease space from. It's not much (only 600sqft), but it's a start. I created an LLC, got an EIN, and applied for a trade name for the dojo, itself. I've pulled together information on signing up for insurance, a TPT license, and a business license from the city. I've created a logo (which I'm quite proud of), and set up a page on my website for it, along with social media accounts. I've started posting in a Facebook group for city residents that has over half the city's population in membership, and I plan to run targeted ads on Facebook/Instagram, post up flyers, and attend local events to drum up more interest. I know I will need some program to keep track of finances, and something to track students attendance (although that one I may just build, myself).

I'll be honest, it feels like a whirlwind trying to set this thing up, and since I have never set up a business, before, I don't even know what I might be missing. Any advice from those who have done it before would be appreciated!
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Kishimoto-Di | 2014-Present | Sensei: Ulf Karlsson
Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage, Jeff Allred
Shuri-Ryu | 2006-2010: Sankyu | Sensei: Joey Johnston, Joe Walker
Judo | 2007-2010: Gokyu | Sensei: Joe Walker, Adrian Rivera
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14406
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats, Noah on you starting your own dojo!! Your logo is very solid across the board, and would make a great patch for the Gi.

Many here know what it is like to start their own dojo/dojang/etc, and if you're in need of any advice, please ask away any questions!! Perhaps, you can present us some questions, and we'll help you in any way we possibly can.

Your first paragraph was very solid because you have done the things you needed to do first and foremost!!

Ask away, Noah!! We've both the knowledge and experience in this topic for you to tap into.




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Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2431
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Congrats, Noah on you starting your own dojo!! Your logo is very solid across the board, and would make a great patch for the Gi.

Many here know what it is like to start their own dojo/dojang/etc, and if you're in need of any advice, please ask away any questions!! Perhaps, you can present us some questions, and we'll help you in any way we possibly can.

Your first paragraph was very solid because you have done the things you needed to do first and foremost!!

Ask away, Noah!! We've both the knowledge and experience in this topic for you to tap into.





Thanks, Bob! I feel as though I am in the phase where I know there are things I don't know, but I don't know what they are to ask about them, lol. Teaching karate is easy, for me, but setting up a business to do it has a LOT of moving parts. I'm wondering if there are any "standard" business considerations I have forgotten, or missed? Any additional considerations for starting it up? That sort of thing.
_________________
Kishimoto-Di | 2014-Present | Sensei: Ulf Karlsson
Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage, Jeff Allred
Shuri-Ryu | 2006-2010: Sankyu | Sensei: Joey Johnston, Joe Walker
Judo | 2007-2010: Gokyu | Sensei: Joe Walker, Adrian Rivera
My Blog: www.karateobsession.com
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DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6148
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats Noah! I'm sure it'll be an all round success.

I just hit my 1 year anniversary with my school. It's a hell of a learning curve.

Biggest thing I would say is to keep up on the admin and have systems in place to cut down on paperwork where you can so you can spend more time teaching.

I run all my payments through Direct Debit to cut down on me chasing for money and would definitely recommend you do the same if you can.

With Facebook advertising also don't be afraid to spend. Hands down it's given me the best return on my money.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14406
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many students can you fit in that 600 square feet of landscape??

What's involved in your "Rent"?? Nothing but "Rent" or are a share of the utilities and the like extra??

What are you allowed to and not allowed to do, considering you're sharing with the CrossFit gym?!?!?

The first thing that comes to my mind is to protect your Brand across the board. That the propriety of your Brand remains with you, and that the CrossFit gym has no saying whatsoever when it comes to your Brand. That the CrossFit gym has zero say as to how you teach and what you teach, especially when your curriculum is involved. If nothing else, both businesses under the same roof should promote each other all of the time, and that both don't offer the very same thing, but they feed off of each others strength with will pump up each others bottom line!!

Danielle's post is solid across the board!! Plus her having black belts as part of her Student Body in her dojang have one advantage over most start-ups, and that is, it stalls any possibility of being burnt out with having only beginners to teach. Often times. but not always, instructors want to teach a variety of levels to kill off the mundane...."Man, I wish I didn't only have beginners!!", and this is said more than one might think.\

Don't second guess yourself because what you laid out in your OP was very revealing in that you gave this a lot of serious thought. Fine tune what you've created by not over doing it, I mean there's a reason why there's only 12 eggs in a dozen, if you catch my meaning. You can over think yourself so much in business, that you find yourself going backwards, instead of forward, and that the bottom falls out before you catch it and save it.

Please keep the questions coming; we got your back, Noah!!



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Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2431
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DWx wrote:
Congrats Noah! I'm sure it'll be an all round success.

I just hit my 1 year anniversary with my school. It's a hell of a learning curve.

Biggest thing I would say is to keep up on the admin and have systems in place to cut down on paperwork where you can so you can spend more time teaching.

I run all my payments through Direct Debit to cut down on me chasing for money and would definitely recommend you do the same if you can.

With Facebook advertising also don't be afraid to spend. Hands down it's given me the best return on my money.


Thanks, Danielle! I'm not actually even sure how to go about setting up direct debit--I assume I just talk to my bank? Or do I have to have them set it up with their bank? If nothing else, I figured I could use Square, or PayPal/Venmo/etc., to collect payments, as well. The paperwork part is something I'm not going to be terribly good at, at first, I imagine, since I don't even know what all paperwork will be involved. I know I need to keep track of waivers, and payments, and class attendance for students, as well as my own business finances/expenses.

I'm definitely on-board with the Facebook ads.

sensei8 wrote:
How many students can you fit in that 600 square feet of landscape??

What's involved in your "Rent"?? Nothing but "Rent" or are a share of the utilities and the like extra??

What are you allowed to and not allowed to do, considering you're sharing with the CrossFit gym?!?!?

The first thing that comes to my mind is to protect your Brand across the board. That the propriety of your Brand remains with you, and that the CrossFit gym has no saying whatsoever when it comes to your Brand. That the CrossFit gym has zero say as to how you teach and what you teach, especially when your curriculum is involved. If nothing else, both businesses under the same roof should promote each other all of the time, and that both don't offer the very same thing, but they feed off of each others strength with will pump up each others bottom line!!

Danielle's post is solid across the board!! Plus her having black belts as part of her Student Body in her dojang have one advantage over most start-ups, and that is, it stalls any possibility of being burnt out with having only beginners to teach. Often times. but not always, instructors want to teach a variety of levels to kill off the mundane...."Man, I wish I didn't only have beginners!!", and this is said more than one might think.\

Don't second guess yourself because what you laid out in your OP was very revealing in that you gave this a lot of serious thought. Fine tune what you've created by not over doing it, I mean there's a reason why there's only 12 eggs in a dozen, if you catch my meaning. You can over think yourself so much in business, that you find yourself going backwards, instead of forward, and that the bottom falls out before you catch it and save it.

Please keep the questions coming; we got your back, Noah!!




How many students can I fit in that space at a time? Well, that depends entirely on what all we are doing in the class, at the time, and whether I can have people sit out and rotate in. That comes out to around 20ft x 30ft of space, which I can have plenty of people running kihon kata and Naihanchi on, which is what they will be starting with, kata-wise. I figure 10 is probably my cap for people being able to do partner work at one time, staggered on the mat. Having people sit out and rotate in could let me have more people in a class, even in the smaller space (they do it on Okinawa, so why not?). I'm going to have three childrens' classes and three teen/adult classes in a week, and chances are that I won't have every student attend every class. Just starting out, I imagine it will take me a bit to reach a point where all of my classes are full enough to justify increasing my space, but when I do, I can discuss expanding with the gym owner.

Ideally, I'm hoping to eventually be able to lease my own entire space, so this is my building ground for that purpose. My rent agreement with the gym owner is tiered, based on the number of students, up to the full per-sq-ft price he pays for the space, and that includes utilities for me. I will need a minimum of 7 students to break even on rent at the start, which I'm fairly confident I can manage. For what I plan to charge, in my market area, I would need 25 students to break even on leasing an industrial space like the gym entirely for myself, so I figure 30 to break even on operating costs, overall, when I decide to start leasing my own entire space.

I have to provide my own martial arts insurance, since the gym insurance doesn't cover it, but otherwise he has given me free reign on how I run my program. We can even use the gym equipment, if nobody is already using it. I can also bolt things to the floor (makiwara) or hang things on the wall/ceiling (bags), and I can store equipment (mats/pads) in the gym. I do need to get some proper martial arts mats, at some point, because the rubberized gym floor isn't good for throws/takedowns, so that's a limitation of the space, but it's really my responsibility to address.

I do need to ask him about what sort of signage is allowed on the property, because that isn't controlled by the gym owner--that's a property owner and city decision. If possible, I would like to put a sign up in front of the complex by the road, but I don't know if that's feasible. At the very least, I will be hanging a banner in the gym with my logo, and I'm going to have uniforms embroidered and/or patches made. We have also agreed to do cross-promotion, but we will have to see how that works out, in practice.

I've already come to terms with the fact that I will only have beginners for a good while. In some ways, that is a little frustrating, but at the same time, I see it as an opportunity to really build a new generation of martial artists from the ground up, so I'm also excited. I have some intermediate/advanced level friends and acquaintances that are open to coming down and training with me on occasion, so I can always get my need to work more advanced material out that way
_________________
Kishimoto-Di | 2014-Present | Sensei: Ulf Karlsson
Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage, Jeff Allred
Shuri-Ryu | 2006-2010: Sankyu | Sensei: Joey Johnston, Joe Walker
Judo | 2007-2010: Gokyu | Sensei: Joe Walker, Adrian Rivera
My Blog: www.karateobsession.com
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DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6148
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paperless training fees is definitely the way forward if you can do it. For Direct Debit I use a service called GoCardless https://gocardless.com/

You sign up, then invite customers via entering their email or by sending them the link. They have to enter their bank details and once approved appear as a customer. You then select what you want to charge them and how often and GoCardless does the rest. It requests the money via their bank and 7 days later deposits it into your bank minus 1% service charge. You can also set up one off payments for stuff like merchandise and grading fees. My students/parents like it because I don't see any personal details plus it's all automated and no one needs to remember anything.

Unfortunately looking at it they don't work in the US just yet only UK, the Eurozone, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and Canada... But there must be something similar you can use.

PayPal business does have a feature where you can generate invoices for a customer and send which is useful for one off payments like belt fees but it still requires you to manually create it each time.

If you can, one of the things I also did was get a machine to take card payments. I paid my bank a nominal amount for a machine that connects to my phone and let's me take credit and debit card payments. Much better than messing around with cash and cheque.

In terms of paperwork I guess local laws will apply but I created a database for student info which tracks various things including student insurance expiry dates (I have to take out a policy on each student) and whether their account is up to date, attendance etc. I also make each student fill out the following before joining:

*Basic Info
*Emergency contact details
*Medical questionnaire plus disclaimer
*Student agreement (i.e. they agree to my dojang rules, payment terms, cancellation terms etc.)
*Social media & marketing opt in / opt out
*Preferences for how we contact them (necessary for GDPR in Europe)

They have to update their details every year once their insurance is due.

Finances I'm a bit lazy with which is why I use the automated system as at least I can print off a report every month. Expenses is harder but important to try to do every month. Play a good accountant too as they will let you know what's missing and use loop holes to minimise your tax.
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DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6148
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wastelander wrote:

Ideally, I'm hoping to eventually be able to lease my own entire space, so this is my building ground for that purpose. My rent agreement with the gym owner is tiered, based on the number of students, up to the full per-sq-ft price he pays for the space, and that includes utilities for me. I will need a minimum of 7 students to break even on rent at the start, which I'm fairly confident I can manage. For what I plan to charge, in my market area, I would need 25 students to break even on leasing an industrial space like the gym entirely for myself, so I figure 30 to break even on operating costs, overall, when I decide to start leasing my own entire space.

Those are such good numbers! I have to have 27 students to break even on my current hall hire plus expenses. To lease an industrial unit I worked it out to be 35+ for one of the smaller 1000 sqft units here. 50 if I wanted something 2 to 3000 sqft.

Wastelander wrote:
I've already come to terms with the fact that I will only have beginners for a good while. In some ways, that is a little frustrating, but at the same time, I see it as an opportunity to really build a new generation of martial artists from the ground up, so I'm also excited. I have some intermediate/advanced level friends and acquaintances that are open to coming down and training with me on occasion, so I can always get my need to work more advanced material out that way

The key thing in found was to make time to train for yourself. Having only beginners may also be a blessing as it is a nightmare trying to come up with lesson plans that accommodate complete beginner and advanced at the same time.
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Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2431
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I figured I would get a Square, or something like it, to take cards with my phone, and I've used PayPal for things for a long time. Now, I guess Venmo and Zelle are more popular, so I can take those, too. It's too bad that GoCardless service isn't available here, but I do know that companies out here set up direct debits for things, so I'll ask my bank about it when I go set up my business account.

As for the paperwork portion, those are definitely good things to keep track of! From the quotes I've gotten on insurance, it looks like I pay per student, but it is still an umbrella policy, rather than a bunch of individual ones. Most of your suggested forms are things I already figured I would want to have, and most of that can just be included in a "new student packet."

As for the pricing breakdown for the number of students, it's a "small town" for out here (still larger than the two nearest "cities" where I grew up ), so things tend to cost less, at least compared to Phoenix. Of course, prices vary by location, and the industrial complex the gym is at isn't exactly downtown, so it's on the lower end. Some industrial spaces in higher traffic areas would take me more like 30-35 students to cover expenses. Commercial spaces are about 8x more expensive than industrial spaces, so that's not really feasible, unfortunately--that would be so nice, though!

With regard to training with beginners, I have mostly been training by myself since my Sensei passed away, anyway. Every now and then I could grab a brown belt or black belt to train with, but not often. I can probably still borrow people on occasion, so I'll have that. Plus, when it comes to teaching, I can periodically jump into drills with the students, and tone things down to their level, which lets me refine my technique, anyway.
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Kishimoto-Di | 2014-Present | Sensei: Ulf Karlsson
Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage, Jeff Allred
Shuri-Ryu | 2006-2010: Sankyu | Sensei: Joey Johnston, Joe Walker
Judo | 2007-2010: Gokyu | Sensei: Joe Walker, Adrian Rivera
My Blog: www.karateobsession.com
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27760
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you have enough funds saved up to run the dojo sans profit for about three months? When I was in school (some years ago now, so take that for what it's worth), this was the suggested norm; being able to run your business for three months out of your own pocket, and then hopefully afterwards your profits start to take over and pay for running itself.

Congrats on starting your own dojo! You're going to do great!
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